Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking back

2010 is almost over.

It was hot...

and cold.

There were accomplishments.  The garden we had prepared the fall before gave us an abundance of delicious edibles all summer and into the fall.  There's stuff on shelves and in the freezer still with that taste of summer.

I made progress with my piano journey.  I finished one beginner book and have performed a couple of times at student workshops.  While, I still have difficulty getting my fingers to behave,  I can read and play what I read - slowly.

There were pleasures:  new and old.  Watching my son create in the kitchen was a new and rare treat during the Christmas holiday.  I'm sure our kitchen wasn't quite like the restaurant kitchen where he cooks  for a living.  He brought his own knives.

There was time to spend on walks through the woods.

And always lots and lots of yarn to be knit up.
But my very favorite memory of 2010 is the time we spent at Lake Idabel.  That week of sun, lake, rest and respite from the world was one of the best holidays ever.

And now I'm looking forward to 2011.  Wishing everyone a happy New Year full of discoveries, pleasures, and celebrations.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


This two-handed knitting is getting easier.  Not sure if I'm doing it 'right' or not but the rows are going faster and it looks the way it's supposed to.  What more could I ask?

I'm pretty happy with these little squirrels.  Aren't they cute?  The rest of the mitten is snowflakes and will be done today.  Then I can start on the second one and have two warm mittens before it gets cold again.  It's always colder in January here. 

Then, I'm dreaming of the Meditation Mitts in pink and gray.  OK,  I admit it.  I may be hooked already on a technique I was never going to do again - ever.  Eggplant magic, for sure..

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stranded squirrels

There are knitting techniques that I don't really enjoy.  Stranded knitting is one of them.  So, I don't do it and I tend to be somewhat negative about it.  But, I used to feel the same way about eggplant.  Every couple of years, I'd cook it up - usually a new recipe - and give it another try.  And, one day, the magic happened.  I now not only tolerate eggplant,  I actually like it. 

Why wouldn't this method work for a disliked knitting technique, too?  My mother taught me to knit years and years ago.  But mostly, I'm a self-taught knitter because she really only taught the basics.  For the past few years,there's been an explosion of ways to knit that are new to me.  There are so many cool techniques out there to learn that I've continued to avoid the stranded knitting thing.  As I was taught, I had to carry all my colors around with me which resulted in a huge tangle of yarns.  I learned to use bobbins to keep a semblance of order but it didn't make me much happier.  How I accomplished anything and retained my sanity I don't know.  Must have been that younger brain. 

Here I am, heading into the New Year and looking  for a little something to keep my hands warm.  Stranded knitting certainly does that.  I began one mitten pattern and abandoned it in mound of tangled yarn.  Determined to give it a better try, I went back to the patterns and found this one.  It was even more complex than the one I'd given up one.  How crazy am I?  Never mind,  I cast on and decided that I would - without any previous experience - try holding one of the colors in my left hand.  That was my 'aha!' moment.  It's still a learning thing but it's sure a lot easier without the yarns winding round each other.  Such a little change - big difference. 

Here's what I managed to get done last night.  These are my tall pines which will segue into a row of cute squirrels.  When I saw a big gray squirrel sitting on the deck, I knew it was meant to be.  This knitting is almost fun and maybe it's addictive.  Or maybe I just want to get it done.  Not sure - but I am kind of glued to the couch with my needles and yarn in hand. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

The day after

The day after Christmas usually means a houseful of people here.  Kids, food, talking and laughing are what Boxing Day is about to me.   It's another layer in the collective family memory.  My brother's family travels the farthest as they don't live in Vancouver.  My sister's family live only a few minutes away but busy lives mean we don't actually see each other all that often. 

And now some of our kids have babies of their own which adds to the noise level and the fun.  There's so much going on between the kitchen and the living room that no one has much time for photos.  The new toys are opened and the old favorites are hauled out, too.  The doll's stroller flies around the house with Baby Eddie clinging on for dear life.  Who forgot to buckle him in?

We discover that even the two-year-old knows more about how the iPhone works than we do.  No fear is the secret, I think.  When I was a kid, new-fangled technology usually meant something that was Not For The Children.  We were told (more or less) we would break it without a thousand hours of patient instruction.  Which wasn't going to happen.  And I know I grew up quite nervous about being the cause of such a catastrophe.  Not so our kids and grandkids. 

Once we're all full with a dinner we didn't think we had any room for, we can sit and talk and just be.  There are kids in laps listening to stories.  The two-year-old lies on her tummy putting the people in the new dollhouse.  A digger roars off to the toybox and comes back with a parking garage.  Now, we can play a game - or just watch.  This year's game was Jenga Max.  And that's when the camera actually came out of it's case.  If you've got a crowd of all ages, I recommend this one.  It's engages people who don't normally play the usual games. 

I leave you with a shot of the game.  The youngest player was six and she had a confident and light hand.  There was physics lecture or two, suspense and warnings of "Don't jiggle the table!".  The longest 'bridge' built into the air was seven pieces. We held our breath and counted.  The crashes are spectacular and wake the uncle who dozes over his book.  Our big day.  Fun.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday wonders - M

M is for Mastery. 

Maybe after a lot more time doing this.  I'm making all the beginner mistakes right now.  I'm told there's no way to screw it up.   I have a lot of fun to come.  I'm very glad to have a Christmas visitor who spins.

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the night before Christmas...

and all through the house...

not a creature was stirring; not even a mouse...

All were waiting for the angels to begin their song.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ruby Tuesday

Today's bit of red is the background for some imagination play.

So, this is what you're supposed to do with those Christmas villages.  You can find a few little playmates who can go in and out the houses and have some grand adventures with you.  

If you want more red in your world, visit Mary T right here.  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Wonders - L

L is for Liquid.

Water is our most common liquid:  refreshing, cleansing, necessary to life - and fun.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


The mitts with buttons are finished.  They did get to be full-grown mittens after all. 

I kind of thought they were headed for the gift box, but no!  they've found a home. My hand model  decided that she liked them for herself.  And the hat.

Is it safe to come out now?

Ha!  Gotcha!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Can I keep her?

Look who followed us home from the thrift store. 

Isn't she pretty?

Those eyelashes are to die for.

When I was little, I always wanted a pony.  I could never have dreamed then that a battery-operated animated horse was possible.  She even 'talks' and blows through her lips.  But, sadly, she is for sale and we will have to part - probably before Christmas. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ruby Tuesday

Red is everywhere today.  Here's something I can't get enough of...

I love watching the corn pop.  It makes me smile - and things that can do that are the best.
For more Ruby Tuesday,just visit Mary T right here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mellow Yellow Monday

Just an old-fashioned street fair...

Magicians and bobbies were there...

And some bright yellow leaves seem to be in her hair. 
That crystal ball seemed to just float in the air.  I have no clue how it works.

For more of Mellow Yellow Monday, visit our host Drowsey Monkey right here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday wonders - K

K is for Kite.

Kites go up...

Kites come down.

They make me smile to see them in the sky - even if it's gray.  Or maybe especially if it's gray.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Tarts' Tale

Or, what happens when two women have a 'senior moment'  at the same time.

Yesterday, we helped to cater a  Christmas party for our Seniors Board and other volunteers.  There was a lot of stuff to put in the back of the car.  It was my job to carry out the platter of mince tarts.  When I got to the car, I could see that the loading wasn't complete so I needed to put the tray down.  Oh, no.  Not on the ground!  I stashed them on the roof of the car and passed the word to Anne that I had done this.  I had a vision of her putting them carefully in the car.

So, you can see this coming, right?  Neither one of us remembered the tarts and we happily drove off.  I could hear a bit of a rattle but figured it was just the stuff for the party.  All of a sudden, I saw this white shape fly backwards and a lot of little broken pieces scatter.  No cars were close behind me which was a miracle on that road.

This morning, we walked past the scene of the crime.  The crows were dancing for joy.  Cawing and shoving each other aside.  Not much remained but a few slivers of white plastic.  Maybe the squirrels got there first.  I can hear the word going out to the wild things:  "Party-time! The tarts have arrived!".

Friday, December 10, 2010

Button Love

I have a lot - a LOT - of buttons.  Over the many years I've been sewing, I've managed to collect several large jars full.  All sorted into colors.  Of course, I've also bought my share just because.

I also gain quite a few nifty buttons when I take apart wool garments for rug hooking.  Suit jackets offer two sizes of the same button.  It worked well for the hat and neck warmer that I made a couple of weeks ago.  So, here I was looking for another hat pattern with a button so I could play with my button jars again.

Look what I found.  The Brattleboro Hat was quietly waiting in the pages of the Fall 2010 Interweave Knits.  And for some reason, I very much wanted to use some yarn that I bought in Upper Canada Village a few years ago.   It was spun in the mill at the Village and I like it.  But it's hard to use - this hat seemed perfect. I did adapt it a tiny bit by leaving off the buttonholes.  Who actually buttons their hat on each time?
I am now in the middle of making some mittens to match with a similar cuff which really buttons at the wrist.  Some black wool yarn frogged from a thrift shop sweater, et voila! another home for a few buttons.  I haven't decided if I'll make the mitts whole or fingerless.  I'm leaning towards whole mitts...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Where was I?

I didn't mean to be away so long.  What the heck happened?

I've not been shovelling snow but there's been a thundering buckets of rain!  Although, as any Vancouverite will tell you, that's a whole lot better than the same amount of snow.  Of course, the wheels come right off here when that kind of snow happens.

How much rain?  Well, I received not one, but two, umbrellas for my birthday.  Apparently, choosing a color was difficult.  I'm glad - I love both of 'em. And they'll keep me nice and dry.  And happy, too.

Then, I have had a few meetings.  Who makes this week in December so busy with momentous decisions? Oh!  I guess I did that. 

I've had a lot of dollies, Barbies and Bratz to clean up and dress for the thrift store.  Knitting and quilting on the go...and I picked up the new Interweave Knits mag yesterday.  I'm scared to look at it too closely. 

I've missed everybody so I'll have to go round and catch up. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Wonders - J

J is for Juvenile.

A young raccoon had made himself a den right against our house in a thicket of St John's Wort.  Anne surprised him with her camera on a cold morning and he slowly, stiffly, retreated to the fence.

Walking through the wisteria vine wasn't all that easy.

But he did his best to get away from her and that darn zoom lens.

I think it's odd that he's alone.  Recently a raccoon was hit by a car on our road - another young one.  Maybe a litter mate.  Maybe he actually has family on the other side of the busy street and can't get back.  No way of knowing but raccoons are resourceful little creatures and I'm sure he'll figure it out.  There must be better sleeping quarters that beside our gas meter on a bunch of tough little stalks springing from bare earth.

Hope he's found somewhere.  It's cold outside.  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Five Easy Pieces

I think I've overdone the 2x2 ribbing.  At least for a while.  The bias band is not looking as I think it should and I'm not totally thrilled with my gray cardi.  I've put it in a clear (trying prevent UFO-itis) plastic bag while I decide if it should be frogged or not.  Don't want to make a hasty decisions as there's a lot of pain knitting here.

But, to amuse myself while I finish some smaller projects, I'll be dreaming of the Project Yarnway Final Challenge.  I know, I know.  I thought I'd kind of given up on this design lark.

But, really, I can be seduced by flattery facts.  I noticed that I had actually made the cut for actually participating in the Final.  Anyone will tell you I'm no good with math and apparently can't even count to 5.  But I've done five design challenges and that gets me in!   OK, they changed the rules a little at the end but I was in before that.  So, how can I refuse such an invitation?

The challenge is to create a five-piece collection by the end of February.  I don't need to do a skirt, pulli, cardi, tights and a hat - nothing that huge.  I could do that.  But hey!  let's be real.  I'm thinking some working girl accessories.  What were you thinking?  No, no, I mean a laptop case, cell holder, coffee cup sleeve...that kind of thing.

But the days are still so young...I have lots of time to think about this project.  Meantime, I have a quilt that badly needs to be finished. Getting it all sandwiched together is the hardest job of all.  Then I can root through my stash.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hide and seek

Last week I knit up the remnant from the Spruce Olivier pullover into this hat and this neck warmer.   It was quick and easy - I was still of sound mind and body then - and the little project was soon ready for a photo shoot.

 Where the heck was Nefertiti?  She'd simply vanished and I wasn't feeling model-ish enough to just wear it myself.  We hunted in all the likely places but no luck.  This morning, I was poking about in a closet where I keep extra purses and voila!  There she was, languishing under a summer bag. 

I quickly pulled her out, dusted her off and dressed her warmly.    The hat is just a simple style but the buttons give it a bit of dash.  And, I was happy to discover that I had 4 smaller matching buttons for the neck warmer.  Into the gift bag it goes. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Out of the mist

I seem to be really making progress now.  The pain is almost a memory and I can walk, stand, sit without wanting to shift around every two seconds. 

I sort of hoped that I would get lots of knitting done once I decided to abandon the idea of doping the pain.  But the mushy head has persisted until today.  I had a cardi on the needles that I figured would be a cakewalk - is there some metaphor confusion there? - since it's essentially a 2x2 rib throughout.  I can do that without much brain power, thinks I. 

And, so I could.  I jogged along quite nicely - even remembering to get the buttonholes where they should be.  This is a DROPS design - 57-5,  in fact.  I am very attracted to simplicity - probably because my cluttered mind needs soothing - and this pattern offered up the simplest instructions I've ever seen in a pattern.  Oh, wait.  Can you see that swerve in the ribbing?  That was why I liked the pattern but it's a nasty slippery trick to play on someone who's head is softly floating in the clouds. 

I have frogged and tinked twice trying to get it right.  It looks like it sort of should now and I'm not doing it again.  We're talking very unbulky yarn here. 

But I am getting better.  I'm sure having something to swear at concentrate on has helped to clear the cobwebs away.


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